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Tips for ESA Work Program

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Hi,

 

I'm going for an interview session soon about starting the Work Program. I do want to get help to get back to work, particularly help getting a part time job. But one that's suitable and doesn't make my health problems worse.

 

Does anyone have any tips for being on the Work Program? I've learnt that when I do sign up it will then become mandatory for 2 years. I'd like to know about my rights on the Work Program as well as how to get the most out of it. I read stories about people being offered or forced into unsuitable work and I want to avoid that. I want to do things that will help me get back to work not just give the company money. For example I already volunteer and I'm concerned that the company will want me to drop that and do different voluntary work just so they can get money for putting me on it. Or putting me on internal courses that won't do me any good.

 

So, any tips or info very welcome! Or links to anywhere you've found good info.

 

Many Thanks.

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I suggest that you read through the posts on Ingeus, and the Work Programme. You will get a pretty good idea of just how much back to work help you are liable to receive.


 

Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges

 

Being poor is like being a Pelican. No matter where you look, all you see is a large bill.

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Thanks osdset, but the posts on Ingeus and the Work Programme seem to be about people on JSA on the Work Programme rather than ESA. I think there are some differences? Like if you're on the ESA Work Programme you don't get Mandatory Work Placements? I'm not sure about it all though.

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The rules for ESA claimants are slightly different, although many of these so called "advisers" do not seem to think so. It is well worth reading up on both the Work Programme guidance notes and the generic guidance notes issued by the DWP - You can download all of them from the DWP site - If you have a laptop, iPad, or eReader (Kindle), download them and you have something to read when attending your providers appointments.

 

Two things I would strongly recommend - Record ALL conversations and insist on copies of ALL documents.

Many of these outfits have a sloppy attitude to record keeping and some are, how shall we say, creative in their reporting.


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Thanks osdset, but the posts on Ingeus and the Work Programme seem to be about people on JSA on the Work Programme rather than ESA. I think there are some differences? Like if you're on the ESA Work Programme you don't get Mandatory Work Placements? I'm not sure about it all though.

 

WP staff are ill trained and generally uninformed. Often they will try to treat ESA claimants the same as JSA claimants, and as you rightly state there are differences.

 

I would have to ask myself if the very dubious prospect of getting any real help from the WP was worth signing my life away for two years of being forced to attend pointless courses purely designed to garner the provider income.

In my opinion WP has nothing to offer those that are harder to place because of health issues, the facts are that they are pretty ineffectual in assisting the able bodied into work.


 

Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges

 

Being poor is like being a Pelican. No matter where you look, all you see is a large bill.

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WP staff are ill trained and generally uninformed. Often they will try to treat ESA claimants the same as JSA claimants, and as you rightly state there are differences.

 

I would have to ask myself if the very dubious prospect of getting any real help from the WP was worth signing my life away for two years of being forced to attend pointless courses purely designed to garner the provider income.

In my opinion WP has nothing to offer those that are harder to place because of health issues, the facts are that they are pretty ineffectual in assisting the able bodied into work.

 

I agree with your general sentiments, but those on ESA who are in the WRAG don't have a choice about participating in the WP.

 

They do have a couple of extra rights, though: they can't be forced to seek work or to do MWA.


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:Between:

 

Some more 'light' reading. The bit that A4E/Ingeus et al seem to miss;

 

'You can support ESA participants to apply for and take up work, but you may not mandate these participants to apply for jobs ...... take up work or unpaid work experience.'

 

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/wp-pg-chapter-2.pdf

 

However, ESA participants can be mandated to a community benefit work placement. Unpaid work in the local park rather than Asda/Poundland.

 

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/wp-pg-chapter-3c.pdf

 

Neither Jobcentreplus nor the providers can ask you to do anything that conflicts with the reasons you were found to have limited capability for work. If you don't already have a copy of your ESA85/85A, it's available on request from your benefit delivery centre. Appeal? Wave a copy of the decision (and if you've got it, the statement of reasons) at them.

 

Happy :ranger:, Margaret.

Edited by **Margaret**

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I agree with your general sentiments, but those on ESA who are in the WRAG don't have a choice about participating in the WP.

They do have a couple of extra rights, though: they can't be forced to seek work or to do MWA.

 

 

Ah! Well I was quoting from my experience, my prognosis is 12+ months so participation is voluntary. On reflection I imagine that there aren't loads of ESA claimants with that opportunity.


 

Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges

 

Being poor is like being a Pelican. No matter where you look, all you see is a large bill.

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Neither Jobcentreplus nor the providers can ask you to do anything that conflicts with the reasons you were found to have limited capability for work. If you don't already have a copy of your ESA85/85A, it's available on request from your benefit delivery centre. Appeal? Wave a copy of the decision (and if you've got it, the statement of reasons) at them.

 

Thank you, I didn't know this and it will be very useful. One of the reasons I got ESA is anxiety (along with other physical problems) and I know I can now turn down voluntary work that will make it worse. Which is a big relief. If they got me useful voluntary work or work experience I would jump at the chance to do that though.

 

I have medical information from my ATOS medical that was used in the appeal but don't have anything from the appeal itself. I should get that.

 

My ESA will run out next year, but I will be on the Work Programme for 2 years. Will the Work Programme rules change for me when I go onto JSA? (I'm getting better and hope to be fit for work by the time my ESA runs out.) Will I then have to take mandatory work placements?

 

Also if I ask to record conversations and get copies of all documents doesn't this make the atmosphere quite confrontational?

 

Thanks.

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Also if I ask to record conversations and get copies of all documents doesn't this make the atmosphere quite confrontational?

 

From my own experience: If you ask before recording conversation, permission will (most likely) be refused. The excuses will range from Data Protection infringements, Human Rights, to breaching (other) client confidentiality. If they insist on conducting business in an open plan office, (or as they often call it, a public area), client confidentiality is non-existent.

Discrete or covert recording is perfectly legal, and is something many others on the Work Programme indulge in.

Asking for copies of all documents is good business practice in any situation - If it triggers open hostilities on the part of the "adviser", you have to ask your self what the person has to hide (perhaps their own incompetence).


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In my opinion WP has nothing to offer those that are harder to place because of health issues, the facts are that they are pretty ineffectual in assisting the able bodied into work.

 

Seconded. I was on JSA and the WP. I am disabled and they were useless, despite there being notices up saying they help disabled people back into work.

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:Between:

 

Appeal? Reconsideration (look at the decision again) by a Jobcentreplus decision maker, or a hearing in front of an employment n support tribunal panel? The latter should've got you a copy of the decision on the day or via post within a few days. Unfortunately, the statement of reasons has to be applied for within one month of the decision.

 

More likely I think, from what you've written, is revision on reconsideration by Jobcentreplus. If so, subject access them for everything to do with your employment n support claim.

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dwp-request-for-personal-information

 

Jobcentreplus don't charge for subject access and theory's a response within forty days. If I've sussed right, you're particularly interested in the LT54 form (the reasons for the revision).

 

'My ESA will run out next year,' Well, your claim won't but contribution flavoured payments will. If you claim jobseekers your participation status will change and you'll be subject to the full conditionality of a jobseekers agreement minus anything you can negotiate via a disability employment adviser.

 

My personal opinion is that audio recorded encounters with Jobcentreplus, or its sidekicks, are short term pain for long term gain. Currently, I've been waiting over a year for an audio recorded Atos assessment. Stressful? Yes, but not as stressful as an upheld complaint to Atos and the subsequent wait for a tribunal hearing. You may be interested in the initial link at;

 

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/equality_duties_recording#incomong-360031

 

Best wishes, Margaret.

Edited by **Margaret**

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Hello,

 

I agree with your general sentiments, but those on ESA who are in the WRAG don't have a choice about participating in the WP.

 

They do have a couple of extra rights, though: they can't be forced to seek work or to do MWA.

 

I know the rules where changed that all ESA WRAG(ir) with 12months or less prognosis could be mandated to WP (after WP providers complaining of wanting more "Stock"). I was unaware of another change that could make all ESA WRAG be mandated to WP.

Have you got a link to the relevant documents/changes?

 

Thanks,

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My advice to do with the WP and [pejorative word edited] is:

Don't tell them anything private

Don't sign anything

You've done the right thing asking for advice

Know your rights and what they can legally ask of you

Be prepared for the fact that they may get you to attend pointless and tedious lectures

Edited by citizenB

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Hello Margaret,

 

What happened is that I didn't get enough points from my ATOS medical but did win my appeal (thank you Advice Shop Edinburgh who are fantastic and who help in so many ways).

 

At the appeal I was put on ESA and the appeal took place approx 6 months after my initial ESA form going in (going from Incapacity to ESA). The appeal put me in the ESA Work Group and said I should not be reassessed for 18 months (from the original date of application). This will take me to about April/May next year.

 

At the appeal I got a piece of paper with this information but I never got anything through the post. I phoned them several times, getting nothing at first, then a random calculation letter then finally a letter stating that I was entitled to ESA but until Oct/Nov. So then I phoned and was told that yes, I would get another 6 months but had to phone up a month before Oct/Nov and get a form to fill in to go onto income based ESA. If I hadn't have queried this my ESA would have stopped then!

 

It took me about 2 months to get just this entitlement letter, I thought I'd been lost in the system somewhere. So I don't have any info on what they gave me extra points for. How can I find this out?

 

I got a phone call saying I'd missed my appointment with the Job Centre but I never got a letter but they were fine about that, probably could hear the bewilderment in my voice and I got a new one.

 

So now I'm going to see Ingeus to hear about their Work Programme on Monday. My heart sinks when I read some of the stories about them. I'm avoiding 4Ae as I've heard locally they are poor. I can choose between Ingeus and Remploy but I don't hear great stuff about Remploy either.

 

I wish I could hear some positive stories. But not the ones from the Work Programme Provider pages, independent ones!

 

Thanks.

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:Between:

 

So your appeal was decided after an oral hearing before an employment n support tribunal panel. 'At the appeal I got a piece of paper ......' otherwise known as a decision notice. Are you able to tell us what's written on it? Might read something along the lines of;

 

Schedule 2

1 c - 9 points

15 b - 9 points

 

Or there may be something about reg 29?

 

Unfortunately for you the full statement of reasons for a tribunal decision has to be applied for within one month of the decision. If there's no clues on the decision notice, was there/do you have a copy of, a written submission to the tribunal. Should indicate the points you/your rep argued for.

 

It's not unusual for Jobcentreplus to take upwards of three months to process a tribunal decision. Personally, I've yet to hear of a positive story from the work programme. :frown:

 

Margaret.

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Hello Margaret,

 

I've been searching through lots of paperwork and haven't found my appeal letter unfortunately. But I have found the original ATOS decision papers. I got 6 points for moving around and 6 points for dealing with other people. I strongly suspect that I got the extra 6 points at the appeal for coping with changes (because of anxiety).

 

So I can't be made to do anything on the ESA Work Programme that would make any of these worse?

 

I'm trying to keep positive even though everything I read about Ingeus is negative. I phoned up Remploy to ask what help they could give but they only seem interested in getting people low skilled, low wage jobs that need good decent physical health: cleaning, security work, shop floor, warehouse work & call centres (I have tinnitus). When they are an organisation that helps disabled people so why so many physical jobs? A mixture would be better.

 

Between x

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I should not be reassessed for 18 months (from the original date of application). This will take me to about April/May next year.

 

Where Osdset when you need him?

 

Right you have a 12 month+ recommendation that means that your participation is voluntary on the Work Program.

 

The confusing bit

 

You have been mandated (you have to go) by the DWP to an initial meeting with a Work Program Provider to discuss participation.

 

This is not the same as being mandated into the Work Program.

 

At this meeting you have 2 options;

 

1, say no it's not for me and walk away guilt and sanction free - as they can not sanction you for saying no!

 

2, say yes I will go on the Work Program with you -

 

ONLY and I mean ONLY if you say YES does the next meeting become the start of your actual participation in the Work Program and attendance from there on is mandatory!

 

I explained this to Osdset after he was in exactly the same situation and the [pejorative word edited] @ Ingus actually told him he was a voluntary participant during the interview you're about to go to.

 

The only people who can be mandated (on ESA) are those with a 12 month or less recommendation for reassessment.

 

You might get a good un like Osdset who knows what they are doing & tells you, but it better to be for-warned and therefore for-armed in case you have to remind them of this.

Edited by honeybee13
Criticism of someone trying to do their job,

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Just like the bad penny I have turned up!

My advice would be say no and walk away, the last thing anyone with health problems needs is the WP on their backs.

My gripe is the options are not (at least for me anyway) explained at the WFI, I was told the (introductory) appointment was mandatory, nothing about voluntary participation.

 

So the unwitting claimant could think he/she had been mandated to the WP long term, and if the [pejorative word edited] keep mum said unwitting claimant gets lumbered. If it happened to me again I would be asking questions at every stage.

 

What I found strange was at no time up to the conversation with Seetec's 'advisor' was I made aware that the prognosis was 12+ months, as far as I knew I had been awarded 15 points at tribunal with no additional information supplied.

It transpired that the prognosis was 24 months, I discovered this during an unrelated inquiry with my local BDC!

Edited by honeybee13
Criticism of someone trying to do their job,

 

Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges

 

Being poor is like being a Pelican. No matter where you look, all you see is a large bill.

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unfortunately esa claimants are cash cows for wp providers, so they will use any 'tricks' they can to get compliance, including misdirection and outright lies.


We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office ~ Aesop

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I can't speak for others, (although I think several have said it) but I found that the WP were awful when it came to making reasonable adjustments and enabling me to take part in the WP.

 

For that reason, I ended up on ESA.

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I found that the WP were awful when it came to making reasonable adjustments and enabling me to take part in the WP.

 

Yes because the WP swallowed the governments spin about ESA claimants being lead swinging malingerers. Faced with people who have real health issues the WP are completely out of their depth.


 

Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges

 

Being poor is like being a Pelican. No matter where you look, all you see is a large bill.

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:Between:

 

Overlooked that you can't be mandated to the work programme anyway. :biggrin:

 

Back at the Jobcentre you can only be asked to do what's reasonable given the limiting effects of your health conditions. So if Atos gave points for problems dealing with other people you can argue not to be sent into a group situation with twenty others cos it'd increase your anxiety. And you can't be sent anywhere that's a mile from the nearest bus stop.

 

Good luck, Margaret. :thumb:

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After your contibution based Esa comes to an end because of the 365 day rule you will be given the chance to claim Income based Esa if you are still ill or disabled, for this you have to meet the criteria, if you meet the criteria there will be no need for you to claim Jobseekers Allowance, so you will just carry on with the same rules the WP have for Esa claimants.

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Where Osdset when you need him?

 

Right you have a 12 month+ recommendation that means that your participation is voluntary on the Work Program.

 

The confusing bit

 

You have been mandated (you have to go) by the DWP to an initial meeting with a Work Program Provider to discuss participation.

 

This is not the same as being mandated into the Work Program.

 

At this meeting you have 2 options;

 

1, say no it's not for me and walk away guilt and sanction free - as they can not sanction you for saying no!

 

2, say yes I will go on the Work Program with you -

 

ONLY and I mean ONLY if you say YES does the next meeting become the start of your actual participation in the Work Program and attendance from there on is mandatory!

 

I explained this to Osdset after he was in exactly the same situation and the [pejorative word edited] @ Ingus actually told him he was a voluntary participant during the interview you're about to go to.

 

The only people who can be mandated (on ESA) are those with a 12 month or less recommendation for reassessment.

 

You might get a good un like Osdset who knows what they are doing & tells you, but it better to be for-warned and therefore for-armed in case you have to remind them of this.

 

what is the 12+ months??

 

so what if you are not recommended for reassessment for 12 months? do you come under the 12+ months or the 12 months ?

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